Riding With Biden Has Its Consequences Too

When I naively told some people that I didn’t want to vote for Joe Biden because I didn’t vote for the first female candidate for President who was just as bad as him four years earlier, people were appalled. I quickly learned that we were on different political terrain than four years prior. I do find the large amount of leftists who hated the diverse Democrats (Hillary, Obama, and all identity politics) now line up behind Uncle Joe.

People like to have it both ways. It’s a Bernie problem but he’s far from the only one. People like to say that we vote Joe and then push him to the left afterwards. This is having your cake and eating it too. It’s more like vote Joe or push him to the left afterwards.

There is a legitimate argument to be made to vote for Joe Biden. I learned to play coy with the question and urge peace and unity for all working and poor people. In this safe space of Counterpunch where I trust people have better things to do than vote shame I’ll say I’m voting for Howie Hawkins.

I’m all good with a vote for Joe but there has to be a little more honesty about what a vote for Joe is. The reason the Democratic National Convention carried more Republicans in name and ideology than leftists is because this is who Biden is trying to get on his side. He knows that Trump is so bad that he can basically do anything he wants.

A vote for Joe is a vote for this coalition to stop Trump. It’s not a vote that will push him to the left. Joe is cynically opting out of the left assuming that Trump is bad enough for people to fall in line and if they don’t then that’s fine because Joe will be fine either way. In other words people vote for Joe because they give a shit about the fate of our world and Joe doesn’t move left because he really doesn’t care.

A vote for Joe will stop Trump and promote Joe’s center-right agenda that’s far superior to Trumpism. A vote for neither of them has the consequence of a potential Trump victory but a vote for Joe also has consequences. Why won’t anyone acknowledge that? A vote for Joe accepts that Republicans and Wall St. will have a larger impact on the Democratic Party and that makes society worse. Just say that. That’s honest and there’s a case that it’s a problem we deal with later after dumping Trump.

The reason that lefties are jumping ship on third party politics is because of Trump but also because of a larger cynicism that infects American culture. The conservative goal of electing Joe Biden is so much less than leftists who raged against the duopoly in 2016. This is partly because people care enough to stop Trump but also partly because people have lost hope in anything more than that.

There is a more complicated picture though which I take hope from. In 2016 leftists too often ignored Trump’s clear racist, sexist and violent language and instead pointed to “populist” rhetoric around nationalism. Donald Trump has been such an intersectional disaster that he has awakened the left to the clear need to incorporate an intersectional resistance. Under Trump women through #MeToo and people of color through Black Lives Matter have put the national spotlight on the urgent need to transform society. Now the left sees Trump more clearly as the real fascist he is and urge to get out of office is not only a cynical step backwards into Bidenism but a maturity in the American psyche recognizing the unique danger of Trumpism.

All that being said Biden has campaigned for who he has got. Throughout his career and in this election cycle he has aimed to please Republicans, credit card companies, the military, police, Wall St., oil and insurance companies. If Biden wanted the left he could have campaigned for the left. However it’s once again out of context to say this.

Biden is supposedly doing whatever it takes to beat Trump. The left and the working class aren’t even on his radar. Look at the campaign spending in this so-called democracy and we see how the poor are completely boxed out of the conversation. The left doesn’t have a political party on a national level. So the problem is deeper and won’t be solved overnight.

Ultimately the consequences of voting, no matter who it’s for pales in comparison to the consequences of doing the necessary political work of creating power for the poor. I simply want to problematize the moralizing nature of the Biden vote. There’s nothing pure about the Biden vote. Just like the Green vote it has consequences.

In many ways the world’s people are feeling the result of years of compromise to people like Biden from a timid left. I think people do know the consequences of the Biden vote and that’s why the Green vote is smeared as pure. That being said the left has got to toughen up. Instead of whining about being cancelled by libs take the moral question of the vote seriously and vote your conscious either way.

If Donald Trump wins this election it will because the Republican Party and it’s buddies in the ruling class stole it. The left will get blamed. No one was sure what to do when Jill Stein was the only one who pursued a real voting machine lawsuit in the 2016 election as the ruling class accepted Trump. The fact that the left was the only portion of society to value democracy seemed to confuse people used to the demonization.

Waking up four years later perhaps we all should have taken Donald Trump more seriously. He is responsible for a near universal cynical turn to the right. If people aren’t voting for Trump, they’re voting for Republicans to stop him. Donald Trump, win, lose or draw has already poisoned the democratic process. He may or may not win the election but we cannot let him win his game of crushing solidarity and compassion. For all the liberals and leftists taking their annual shit on the Green Party I forgive you. I blame Trump, the Republicans and the ruling class for such division.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com